Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Enemy Within


The World Counters cover

Blake Jackson is at the homestead teaching others through Rebel Radio. His wife Sandra, is helping to coordinate the attacks in the southwestern states against the New Caliphate. All she needs is proof that the DHS is helping the enemy to confront the president. If she doesn’t get it soon or if the troops don’t stop the advance, then the Caliphate will have the codes to our nuclear weapons.

Craven’s tenth novella The World Burns series, The World Counters, takes place mainly at the forefront of the battle in the southwestern states. Trying to sort out who in the government is aiding the Caliphate requires deception and stealth on behalf of the Kentucky Mafia.

This is to me the best book in the series thus far.

5 out of 5 stars.

Escape from New York


The Last Layover cover

Evan, Jason, and Peggy are part of a flight crew that is on a layover In New York City when explosions take out the grid. Their crewmember, Glen, has gone out partying and does not return. Evan and Jason are preppers with a plan to get home and hopefully survive this very type of event. Peggy is young and naïve enough to have never even considered anything like this happening. As the world around them deteriorates, Peggy has a hard time coming to the grasps with the new reality. Will she suck it up and follow Evan’s and Jason’s leads or will she become a burden that costs them time and lives?

Bird’s first novel in The New Homefront series, The Last Layover, follows the crew as they try to make it home. In this case home is Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. As they travel they find out that theirs was not an isolated incident. Within a matter of hours, the worst of people who have become dependent on instantaneous gratification comes out making the journey hazardous at best and very possibly deadly.

The story in and of itself is a good one. It is paced well and edited well. The characters were not very well developed which is a bit disappointing. There was the use of some slang terminology that evidently meant something to the author but that I could not find explanations for anywhere online.

4 out of 5 stars.

Interview with Author Angie Grigaliunas


CTC:       Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Angie Grigaliunas, author of the medieval dystopian Sowing.

Sowing Cover

Thank you for joining us today, Angie. Let’s get started, shall we?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AG:       It’s been a gradual thing, really. I’m not sure of one specific moment when I was like, “Yeah, this is what I want to do.” It’s something I’ve always loved, though I got away from it for a while in my teens. I never stopped writing completely, but it wasn’t my focus. I’d say around March 2006, I buckled down and decided to be serious. So just over eleven years ago!

CTC:       How long does it take you to write a book?

AG:        I have no set answer for this. Ack! My very first book (about elves), I wrote in just over a year, I believe. That was back when I was like 18. My first published book (Sowing) took about a year to write as well…but I had been working on the world for a couple of years before that with a different book one (Searching for Silver). This most recent one (Quelling, book two of that series) is up to about a year so far, if not more, and it’s not done yet. It really just depends.

I take however long it requires, there! Haha!

CTC:       What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

AG:       I write when I can. I have a day job and work 30 hrs/wk, so it’s a lot of writing on the weekends or evenings.

CTC:       What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

AG:       Um…a quirk…hmm. Well, talking to my characters? Arguing with them? That’s pretty quirky…and I do that a lot…

CTC:       Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

AG:       The ideas just come, haha! I get inspiration from everywhere. Conversations, radio talk, songs, articles, brainstorming with friends/critique partners, prompts, dreams every once in a while, etc. I’ve done research on a bunch of different topics and time periods.

CTC:       When did you write your first book and how old were you?

AG:       My first complete book…I believe I started it when I was about 18 ½. It’s the one I mentioned above and took about a year to write.

CTC:       What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

AG:       Walking/exercising, hanging out with my husband, facebooking…

CTC:       What does your family think of your writing?

AG:       For a while, they were skeptical and not super encouraging. They kind of thought I was wasting my time. My mom was always supportive, but the dream of publishing was so far-fetched at the time. Now that Sowing is published and in actual book-form, the skepticism has faded into awe and interest. Funny how that happens! 😉

CTC:       What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

AG:       That characters take over! They truly do! It’s the weirdest but coolest thing. I’ve also learned just how much I love writing. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

CTC:       How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

AG:       I’ve completed four now:

-elf one (the one I mentioned previously)

-former book one (Searching for Silver) of my current series (The Purification Era)

-Sowing (actual book one of The Purification Era)

-and as of 4/1/17 (!!!!!!!!! It still needs a lot of edits/revision, but it’s WRITTEN!!!), Quelling (book two)

As for favorite…oh gosh. The elf one was a huge accomplishment – the first book I ever completed – but Searching for Silver was a massive undertaking, taxing, and took like 2 ½ years (and sadly, most of it is now unusable, but still…such a valuable time of learning). Sowing was amazing, and I adore it so much. First published book, eep! Quelling is especially special (“especially special,” haha! Say that five times fast!) because I have never completed a sequel to anything before. Ahh, I love them all for their own reasons! Since I’m coming off the high of Quelling, I’m almost leaning toward that one; it builds on the world in Sowing so much more…and the characters grow…and it’s so intense (I hope!)…

 Sowing/Quelling. There. Final answer. They can’t really be separated too much. Haha!

CTC:       Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

AG:       Read! Read a lot. Join a critique group. But the biggest thing is be teachable! Be willing to listen to constructive criticism. WRITE, write, and write some more. Learn the rules and learn when to break them. Find your voice.

CTC:       Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

AG:       Define “much,” haha! Some of my readers are also my crit partners, and I talk to them frequently. Thus far, everyone has pretty much loved my story. I think everyone who has read Sowing is eager for Quelling. They love the characters, the world-building, and they say “WHERE IS BOOK TWO?” a lot…

CTC:       Do you like to create books for adults?

AG:        Yes and no? I write sort of YA…and I say “sort of” because it’s really dark stuff most of the time. Dark themes, lots of violence… But I’d rather make books for adults than children, so… Haha!

CTC:       What do you think makes a good story?

AG:        There are so many elements that go into it, but for me, characters make or break a story. I can put up with a LOT of less-than-ideal stuff (grammar issues, plot holes – within reason, at least! – inconsistencies, etc.) as long as I care about the characters. Make me care, and you likely have me. Fail to make me care, and you can have the best plot in the world, and it will feel like I’m forcing myself through your book. Sorry…just how it is!

CTC:       As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

AG:       A cat. Ha! No, I probably wanted to be an artist or something. I’m sure at some point in my childhood, I did want to be a writer, though I don’t know if I even thought it could/would be a career.

CTC:       Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?

AG:       Um…Quelling should be out by the end of the year, and Sowing is out now! =) You can find it here:

CTC:       Again, thank you, Angie, for allowing me to take up your time.

You can follow Angie Griguliunas here:

Angie GrigaliunasAll is not as it seems.  In fact, nothing may be.

Can America Be Saved?


Resurrection America cover

Rick Johnson is the Sheriff of the small town of Resurrection, Colorado. On the day of the annual Fall Festival the town and all its visitors are put under quarantine by the government. A weaponized virus has been unleashed and the town is now under martial law. Sheriff Johnson has reason to think there is more going on than the town has been lead to believe.

Gunhus’ conspiracy novel, Resurrection America, spins a futuristic, sci-fi nightmare complete with a megalomaniac hellbent on saving America. The dynamics between the Sheriff and the antagonist are complex. There is so much deception happening that at times it is hard to tell what is real.

While this is a very good story, I felt that it almost jumped the shark when the real purpose behind the quarantine was revealed. It was as if another story highjacked the original one. My mind had to quickly shift gears from government conspiracy to high tech sci-fi.

4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

This book will be available in June 2017.

The Post-Apocalyptic Odd Couple


Rebel Radio cover

Z is an avid fan of Rebel Radio hosted by Blake Jackson. She is trying to survive with only gamer skills and she quickly finds out that the real world is nothing like a video game. Don is an alcoholic whose world fell apart before the EMP hit. Unfortunately for him, his past keeps running into him with devastating consequences. When the two meet up they are a most unlikely pair to help one another.

Craven’s short novel, Rebel Radio, is a companion book to The World Burns 5: The World Bleeds but can be read as a standalone book. It is a very well written story in the fact that both protagonists’ characters are well developed. They each take turns telling their version of the story as it unfolds. It’s a harsh reality that they now live in and it is a fight for survival against the worst of mankind.

Craven does an excellent job of tying their story into The World Burns series. I like the fact that is shows how people can help one another without having nefarious intent.

5 out of 5 stars.

Can a Self-Actualized AI be Stopped?


Girl of Stone cover

Trattora has managed to find the other three members of The Expulsion Project and they are off on an adventure to their home planet, Mhakerta. Mhakerta was taken over by a self-actualizing artificial intelligence known as Preeminence and its citizens are now prisoners. Marauders, pirates, human traffickers, and more do their best to keep The Four, as they have become to be known, from getting to Mhakerta and finding their birth parents. Then there is the challenge of battling Preeminence.

Hinkens second novel in The Expulsion Project, Girl of Stone, is even more exciting than the first book. There is non-stop action and layers of twists that keep you reading straight through until the end. The heroine, Trattora, is constantly struggling to do the right thing and not get them all killed without the council of her best friend, Buir.

This is a young adult, dystopian, space opera. The ending smacked me upside the head. It was indeed a shocker. Can’t wait until the next book!

5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

This book will be available in May 2017.

The Enemy Comes From Within


Agony of the World cover

Blake Jackson is fulfilling the conditions of his presidential pardon by training FEMA and governors in the ways of the homestead. Sandra’s Kentucky Mafia is working with John’s American Patriots to take down the new Caliphate’s army. King and Michael discover that part of the US government is working with the new Caliphate.

Craven’s ninth novella in The World Burns series, Agony Of The World, follows the fighting as it continues to spread beyond the southwest. Blake wants to return to the homestead permanently once he has finished his sentence but the president isn’t willing to let that happen. And, Sandra’s baby tummy is getting bigger by the day.

The way things are in the world today this is a real possibility. It’s not funny that truth can be stranger than fiction.

5 out of 5 stars.